Master ClassSummer Outdoor Entertaining by Julia Amory
What was the inspiration behind India Amory?
I founded the company almost four years ago. While planning my wedding in Southampton and unsuccessfully searching for printed linens that would work for the event, I ended up working with a block-print team in India to create custom linens. They were such a success that I made the permanent decision to leave my job in finance and pursue this as a business. Soon after we launched a direct-to-consumer lifestyle brand that makes entertaining at home fun, elegant and affordable.
And the story behind the name?
I suppose I could have called the brand Julia Amory, but I felt it was important to highlight the tradition of block print by making our country of manufacturing a part of the title—my last name is Amory and the pairing of the two, I suppose, highlights how I make block print my own. My attraction to Indian block print is twofold: the creative process of being able to work with our artisans to create designs from scratch is deeply fulfilling and I also love that no two pieces are identical because of the handmade component.
What's your summer entertaining style?
I approach summer entertaining with a high-low approach. I love to mix our bright and fun linens with more traditional vintage plates—Mottahedeh is a favorite. It creates a really varied, elevated look. I’m also addicted to fresh flowers and, if they’re blooming in the garden, I’ll use those in a Juliska glass vase. Colored glass is a really beautiful way to elevate your table and offset the linens—I recently placed an order with Estelle Colored Glass, a Charleston-based brand I’m very excited about.
Any tips on fun and creative outdoor gatherings during this socially distanced era?
I think setting up beautiful buffets and letting people sit causally on outdoor furniture is a nice way to create a low-pressure, socially distanced environment. Add beautiful flowers and colored tapers to the buffet table to still make it feel festive, and stock up on bamboo folding chairs or vintage director chairs so that people are able to comfortably create their own distance in your seating area. Being outdoors in the summer is a great opportunity for all sorts of lanterns—I love white Moroccan ones and stock up wherever I can find them. I’m also very loyal to any sort of big glass hurricane (I personally love the etched glass ones from The Enchanted Home), which look beautiful and elevated with a white pillar candle.
What about for those with children?
I grew up in a house where children were incorporated into everything that my parents did and I’m very appreciative of that because, for me, it created a lifelong appreciation for graceful entertaining. I think dressing for dinner, setting a beautiful table, eating as a family is incredibly important and the silver lining of this strange time we’re living in is that we have the opportunity to do more of that.
What are your go-to party-planning and tabletop hacks?
Stock up on the things that make throwing a beautiful dinner easy. Invest in a 60”-round folding table and extra bamboo chairs to have on hand so you can easily accommodate extra guests. Buy wicker chargers in bulk you can use on multiple tables to create cohesion, even if you use different tablecloths. Have some great linens (buy two at a time) on hand so setting tables for lots of guests—or a buffet and a seated table—is easy. I always have lots of extra votives in pretty colors, tapered candles and pillar candles on hand. And, lastly, don’t be afraid of the unexpected on the table—I often use things from around the house to add a playful component to the look: antlers, fruit, you name it!
No Julia Amory summer gathering is complete without…
It’s all about the tables….
Essential Top Tips for Outdoor Gatherings
Stock up on colorful linens and coordinating candles, votives, and colored glassware to instantly create a cohesive look.
You can’t go wrong with vintage plates. Estate sales, eBay and Etsy are fantastic resources for finding interesting tabletop.
Use what’s in the garden! If that fails, bodega flowers always work. I love using glass water pitchers for my flowers—Juliska makes some of my favorite, but I love Pomelo Casa as well.
I’m so much more excited by table setting than cooking. I can pull it together, I promise, but if I’m being totally honest, chances are you’re getting catering if you come to my house. I’m more excited about the tables and my party dress! Whatever you do, give yourself TIME, more time than you think you need; entertaining should not be stressful.
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